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EARLY IBĀḌĪ THEOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS ON ATOMS AND ACCIDENTS

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 March 2013

Abdulrahman Al-Salimi*
Affiliation:
P.O. Box 4, Code 421, Bidiyah, Sultanate of Oman

Abstract

The bulk of Orientalist research regarding Islamic theological literature has neglected Ibāḍī theological opinions related to cosmology, which has led to an incomplete understanding of Islamic theology in the West and to a significant gap in Western scholarship. The omission of this important movement of Islam is understandable, considering the unavailability, lack of publication, circulation and translation of Ibāḍī texts. Therefore, this study seeks to address some of these gaps in the scholarship on early Islamic theology. The goals of this article are: 1) to characterize the classical Ibāḍī theological literature dealing with the atomistic theory of substance and accident; 2) to review the texts of Ibāḍī scholars as they argued and engaged with other Islamic theological schools: pre-Bahshamiyya Muʿtazilites (Abū Hāshim al-Jubbāʾī, d. 321/933) and Ashʿarites (Abū al-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī, d. 324/936), in relation to the atomistic theory of substance and accident during the 3rd/9th century; 3) to survey the wide range of opinions among the early Ibāḍī theologians, and to examine the specific sources and themes that may have influenced this multifarious school of thought. Likewise, it is the aim of this article to demonstrate the common features in the Ibāḍī approach to producing theological literature during the formation of Islamic theology, and to explore how these early theologians may have gained access to cosmological themes that predate Islam.

Résumé

Le gros de la recherche orientaliste consacrée à la littérature théologique islamique a négligé les idées théologiques Ibāḍī à portée cosmologique, ce qui a conduit à une compréhension incomplète de la théologie islamique et à un manque considérable dans la recherche occidentale. L'omission de ce mouvement important de l'Islam est compréhensible étant donné que les textes Ibāḍī ne sont accessibles, publiés, diffusés et traduits que de façon très partielle. Cette étude vise donc à combler certaines de ces lacunes dans la recherche sur la première théologie islamique. Les objectifs de cet article sont de: 1) caractériser la littérature Ibāḍī classique portant sur la théorie atomiste de la substance et de l'accident; 2) examiner les textes d'auteurs Ibāḍī du iiie/ixe siècle dialoguant et discutant avec d'autres écoles théologiques islamiques, à savoir les Muʿtazilites pré-Bahshamiyya (Abū Hāshim al-Jubbāʾī, d. 321/933) et les Ashʿarites (Abū al-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī, d. 324/936), en lien avec la théorie atomiste de la substance et de l'accident; 3) passer en revue le grand nombre d'opinions soutenues parmi les premiers théologiens Ibāḍī, et examiner les sources et les thèmes spécifiques susceptibles d'avoir influencé cette école de pensée diversifiée. Cet article cherche aussi à identifier des traits communs dans l'approche Ibāḍī durant la période de formation de la théologie islamique, et à explorer les voies grâce auxquelles ces premiers théologiens ont pu avoir accès à des thèmes cosmologiques antérieurs à l'Islam.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013

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References

1 Early Ibāḍī Literature: Abū l-Mundhir Bashīr b. Muḥammad b. Maḥbūb, introduced and edited by al-Salimi, Abdulrahman and Madelung, Wilferd (Wiesbaden, 2011)Google Scholar.

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18 Wilkinson, The Imamate Tradition of Oman, pp. 2–3.

19 Van Ess, J., Theologie und Gesellschaft im 2. und 3. Jahrhundert Hidschra: eine Geschichte des religiösen Denkens im frühen Islam, 6 vols. (Berlin and New York, 1991–97), vol. 1, pp. 406–14Google Scholar. Recently, theological texts have been discovered in Algeria in al-ʿAlī library in Mazab among which the Kitāb al-Tawḥīd by ʿAbd Allah b. Yazīd al-Fazārī mentions the concepts of atoms and accident. The text was written approximately in the 170s.

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30 Cf. al-Salimi, Abdulrahman, “Identifying Omani/Ibāḍī Siyar”, Journal of Semitic Studies, 55 (1) (2010): 115–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar; This epistle is still in manuscript form, but is available in several private libraries in Oman such as al-Sālimī and al-Būsaʾīdī.

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77 Al-Nīsābūrī, Masāʾil al-Khilāf, p. 8.

78 Kindī, al-Jawhar, p. 70.

79 Kindī, al-Jawhar, p. 76.

80 Al-Jāḥiẓ, al-Hayawān, vol. 5, pp. 5–96.

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